Russell Engine Sams' Life Story

Geiser steam engine

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710 N. Fourth St. Miamisburg, Ohio 45342

I was born September 4, 1922 in a small town called Boston, 6 miles East of Hillsboro, Ohio in Highland County.

When I was 8 years old I joined the 4-H Club. I did not have anything to enter in the club program. So, my mother planted some flower seeds. But they did not grow so I took what was left of the seeds and planted them in a flower box. Then I got some rocks and painted them, and placed them in the box. I got first prize for it!

When I was 9, I wanted to be an engineer. So I asked my grandfather what I needed to know to be a steam engineer. So he taught me how to run a steam engine.

In the spring of 1931 my father brought his 19/65 HP Baker home from the shed where he kept it. I asked my father if I could run the Baker. He said 'if you know how'. So I got on the Baker and did everything there was to do to start it. My father asked who showed me how to do all that. 'I will tell you some day. Now may I take myself a ride?' Father said yes. I drove the engine over to the well where my father said he wanted it parked. I had to have a box to stand on so I could see over the engine.

I asked my father if I could go with him when he went to thresh wheat to learn more about the Baker, to be an engineer. Father took me with him. He had a big threshing ring, 48 jobs. I can remember two farms having 150 acres of wheat.

Before we got done threshing, I knew how to run the 19/65 HP Baker steam engine.

I asked my father if I could run the Baker next year to the thresher. He said, 'no, not until you are tall enough to stand on the platform and see over the engine.'. So I had to wait until I was 12 years old, then I got to be the engineer. Father would let me run it some before I was 12. There were times I got to run the engine all day.

My father Wilbur Guy Sams is on the engine; I am standing by the flywheel This is the picture of the Geiser steam engine in the summer of 1965. It is not done yet, but we show the model and run it. My father and I worked 8 years to get the Geiser class UU steam engine built. The main office and factory is in Waynesboro, Franklin Co., Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

My father got a Geiser class UU steam engine 22 HP in the fall of 1931. I got to run it a little the next year, but I still had to wait until I was 12 years old. Geiser alphabetized their engines instead of going by horsepower.

My uncle got a 32 inch Aultman Taylor separator. I went with my uncle to run the Geiser steam engine. He also had a big threshing ring.

We threshed wheat until I went to the army in 1942. Threshing was almost over in that part of the country where we lived in Hillsboro, Ohio, Highland County.

When I was 14, my father taught me how to work on cars to be a mechanic so I could help him in his garage business. My father was 14 when he started to work on cars. A doctor got my father a. set of mechanic books so he could get a good start in the car business.

When they started the steam engine show in 1945 on LeRoy Blaker's farms, I did not go with my father at that time because I didn't think the show would go over with the public.

I got married May 15,1946, to Bonnie Hostington and 8 months later we were divorced.

In 1947 I went to LeRoy Blaker's farm to the show to see his steam engines. The show did not have a name yet. I said the show should have a name. My father, Wilbur Guy Sams, named the show the 'National Threshers Association'. I was there, and I have been a member since 1947 to 1982. I am on the board of directors in the Mad River Steam and Gas Show for 8 years. I helped start the Mad River Steam and Gas Show. Other shows started and I got in them because I like to hear and see good steam engines run.

August 20th, 19501 married Hazel Eileen Burnett. We moved to Dayton, Ohio, in 1951. I worked for Stengers Ford Garage and used car lot. I worked there 9 months. I went back to my father's garage and worked for myself until 1955.

My wife Hazel goes with me to the steam shows all she can. She works for Woody's Super Market and has worked there for 11 years. We have lived in Miamisburg, Ohio, since 1962.

On December 29, 1951 my wife gave birth to our first born son, Daniel Ernest Sams. He is now living with his wife Debbie and their baby girl, Trista Megan, on a dairy farm near Broadalbin, New York. On August 13,1953 my wife gave birth to our second child, a girl, Kathleen Sue Sams. She is now living with her husband Charles King in Hillsboro, Ohio.

We finished the engine in the winter of 1965 and 1966; it is all done just like the model Geiser class UU 22 HP from the factory. Lots of hard work went into this, I enjoy it a lot. I have won prizes in contests. (Photos courtesy ofKathleen Sue Sams King.)

I wanted a steam engine to play with and for shows. My father and I built a half-scale model of a Geiser Class UU 22HP steam engine. We made every part just like the big engine from the factory. The big engine weighs 14 tons. The model engine weighs 3,500 lbs. It took us 8 years to build the model engine. We made patterns out of wood to get castings poured. We got the engine completed in the spring of 1966. I learned a lot by helping build this model class UU Geiser steam engine. My father got the Geiser class UU steam engine from his cousin in Missouri in the fall of 1931, and completely overhauled it and restored it. The engine did not run until 1932 and we used it to thresh wheat. I helped my father all I could on the Geiser steam engine to get it to run again to thresh wheat and steam tobacco beds. In 1945 my father sold the Geiser for junk to the steel mill. It was a good engine, the boiler was in good shape, all it needed was a set of tubes.

I go to several steam engine show clubs, I go to 10 or 12 shows every year with the model Geiser steam engine. I got to take the engine to New York to the Early Engine Club combined with the Fair at Schaghti-coke. I've met a lot of nice people in New York. They have an outstanding little show of their own with the Fair. I have also been through two steam engine factories; A. D. Baker Company, Swanton, Ohio. And Mr. Abner D. Baker, himself, took me through his factory when I was 10 years old. I haven't forgotten everything Mr. Baker showed me and told me about his factory. He took his time with people and was a real nice man.

My father got in with the Huber Company in 1936, as a salesman and sold the last four Huber steam engines they had. My father took me through the Huber factory but they weren't building them any more.

The last steam engine was built in 1940 and sold to Mr. Kueben June, 1942 for $2550. It was a Kitten 25 HP engine and he used it in his sawmill. It was the last new steam engine.

I retired from the Karrollton Envelope Company in 1980 because I have had three heart attacks, in the past. I worked for the envelope company for 25 years. Now, all I do is take the model Geiser steam engine to shows to play and enjoy myself.

The boiler for the model Geiser steam engine was built by Lawrence D. Soloman at Mobile, Missouri. Sol-oman Boiler Works was the only place I could get a rivet boiler built to the Ohio code. The Ohio state boiler inspector passed the boiler with no problem because the boiler is built from the right material. The boiler is 3/8 inch sheets, inch rivets and stay-bolts. I have a chart on steam boilers to tell how much steam pressure they will stand. This Soloman boiler will stand up to 2,250 pounds of steam pressure.

Who invented the injector? Henry Jacfues Geffard, May 8, 1958, there is a lot to learn right there. He is the first man to get the injector on the steam boilers for the public. Anyone can boil water.

I have a 3/8 injector on my little steam engine. A 3/8 injector will move 90 gallons of water per hour with 150 pounds of steam, will empty a 90 gallon tank in one hour. With 150 pounds of steam and working the engine, the water in the boiler is boiling at about 360 degrees!

My father is a good engineer, and he taught me how to run the engine with I was a teenager. I am still learning about steam engines. I have heard men say, 'I know all there is to know about steam engines'. I don't listen to a man when he says that because I don't think he knows too much!